The Biden administration will give asylum to up to 100,000 refugees escaping the war in Ukraine.
This past week, the Biden administration unveiled their aid plan for refugees fleeing from war in Ukraine. Ukrainians nationals already had a Temporary Protected Status (TPS), but more measures to help the millions of fleeing refugees were necessary.
“This is not something that Poland or Romania or Germany should carry on their own. This is an international responsibility.”Biden said during a recent news briefing.
A few days ago, it was speculated that the main beneficiaries who would likely be able to temporarily obtain asylum in the United States were journalists, activists for different causes, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Also, Ukrainians who have relatives in the United States could also be received through the family reunification process.
However, refugee organizations, immigration advocates, and Democratic legislators pressed the government to go further and show deeper support for the abysmal humanitarian crisis that the eastern European country is going through. Although most Ukrainian nationals flee into western Europe, currently it is estimated that there are approximately 7,000 Ukrainians applying for asylum in the United States through various means.
Lessons learned from the Afghan refugee crisis?
The main intention of the countries that are organizing humanitarian aid is for the refugees to stay in Europe. For those who for different reasons come to the United States, the current administration has declared that it will give them support and protection with a solid plan that will allow them to resume their normal lives as soon as possible.
Mark Hetfield, president and executive director of the American Jewish association HIAS dedicated to the protection of refugees, declared that it is extremely necessary that there is a path through which the Ukrainians can settle in the United States safely.
“In general, we have been urging that they not bring in the refugees from Ukraine the same way they brought in the Afghans, through humanitarian parole with no path to assistance, status, or family reunification but instead do it in an organized and safe way.”Hetfield said.
Legal pathways for Ukrainians
White House officials said that the federal government will do everything in its power to guarantee that refugees will be received through “the full range of legal pathways.” This presumably includes everything from the US refugee admissions program (which can lead to a green card) to visas or humanitarian parole. However, the initiative will focus on Ukrainians who already have family members living in the United States.
Many immigration advocates praised Biden’s announcement, as many Ukrainians still seeking refuge in Europe could now ask for asylum in the US. For Oleksandr Berezhnyi, a 32-year-old still in Bucha, Ukraine, it raised hopes that it would increase the chances for his pregnant wife and 4-year-old daughter to resettle in the United States, as they have family living in New Jersey.
But the already struggling immigration system is still stuck with tens of thousands of asylum applications from Afghans and Central Americans. Balancing how many vulnerable immigrants or refugees the country can receive – and from which countries – has become a difficult political strain for this administration.
Meanwhile, more and more people flee the human tragedy that became Ukraine, inundating US consular offices in Europe with visa applications.
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